The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette

The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette (Or, How To Survive A Dinner In Paris)

“Maybe we should take a bottle of something with us? Prosecco, perhaps?”

I could tell by my French boyfriend’s slightly agape mouth that, no, we would not be taking a bottle of Prosecco (or Italian white wine) to his parents’ dinner party in Paris. This was my first lesson in French dining etiquette: always bring a gift for your host, but never let that gift be a bottle of anything non-French.

The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette

Here at BonAppetour, we are all about dining with locals. Of course, this means that you actually need to dine like a local, too – which includes adopting the eating customs of your culturally-different dinner-party host.

Naturally, the French have many interesting customs centred around their cuisine; some of these are common sense, but others only a local would know.

But don’t worry, none of them involve frog legs.

Toast properly

The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette

“I’ve heard that only men should refill wine glasses, but I think that may be antiquated,” says Hardly Snarky’s American expat and blogger Anne. Although I don’t think this would sit well with modern-day Parisiennes, it is hardly surprising that drinking wine is no simple affair in France.

Known for their bon vin (or fine wine), the French take great pride in what they serve with their food. In terms of drinking customs, when you’re toasting, always look your toasting partner in the eye, and try not to cross arms with anyone.

A common toast to use is à votre santé (which means “to your health”). This is more commonly shortened to just “santé.”

Take your time

The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette

Dining with French locals will never be a quick dinner date. In fact, a survey found that 43% of French people spend over 45 minutes eating lunch each day. This was by far the biggest percentage out of all 14 countries surveyed.

If you are invited to dine in France, make sure you take your time over your food to savour the delicate flavors. It’s only polite to do so!

Watch your “baguettiquette”

The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette

When you are literally breaking bread, leave it by the side of your plate, never on top of it. This would be a serious breach of what is known as “baguettiquette.”

And don’t be surprised if your fellow diners clean-up their plate with their remaining hunk of bread.

…and your table manners

The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette

Any slip-up in table manners might offend your local host or hostess, so it is always a good idea to be well-versed in French dining etiquette. Here are some good dining habits to keep in mind:

  • Keep your hands on the table at all times
  • Don’t eat until your host says, “Bon appétit!”
  • Always keep the knife in your right hand, and the fork in your left
  • Lay the knife and fork parallel to each other on the right side of the plate once done with the meal

After 5 years of dining with a French family, I have also learned to not touch cheese with my fingers, to not remove the skin from cheeses like brie and camembert, and to not spread foie gras with a knife; rather place a slice onto your bread, and then eat it.

But most of all, I learned to enjoy the delicious dishes of France – and more importantly, the company of my fellow diners.

Over to you

Now that you’re (relatively) well-versed in French dining etiquette, it’s time for you to put it into action at one of BonAppetour’s many home restaurants in Paris. Go ahead, give it a try!

Travelling to Paris: An Essential Guide

Travelling to Paris: An Essential Guide

When we are planning a trip to any random city across the globe, we often get excited about the pictures or the things we read about that destination. And some cities unfortunately disappoint us once we get there and fail to meet our expectations that we set for ourselves prior to our departure.

Paris is probably one of those cities that never fails to upset, a city that truly lives up to and often exceeds expectations.

Here is an essential guide worth taking a look at when travelling to Paris.

Mingle with the locals

French locals will know all the must-do activities in Paris. “But how do I meet locals in France?” I hear you say.

Well, you could jump into french cooking classes in Paris, or eat with locals in Paris. Food is a great way to bring cultures together, and you will have a wonderful excuse to get a wealth of insider knowledge about the French capital.

Also, contrary to popular belief, most Parisians actually speak English – particularly younger people. But if you do bump into a Parisian that only speaks French, Google translate will always be there for you.

Be the stylish you

Paris, being the fashion capital that it is, the locals there dress very stylishly, hence why it is also important to bring more stylish clothes. Or alternatively, you could just buy all your clothes there.

Slow down and enjoy

When going to the parks to enjoy the Paris sun, bear in mind that they generally do not have any benches, but what they have are chairs which are of course free to use. So go to the nearest pick up point of chairs and get one for yourself, open up your picnic basket, enjoy the afternoon breeze and local chatter in the park.

Music is in the air

Paris is also widely known for its music, from the language, lyrics to the way it is sung, be prepared to join in the throng on the streets of Paris if you happen to visit Paris during one of the major music festivals that take place so often in Paris!

Navigate the maze

There are countless of narrow streets in Paris, it is very easy to get lost, so look out for where you are going at all times! Identify the street you are on by either the name or the corner cafe. If not, Google Maps is another fantastic way to get around.

Shopping heaven

Bring your credit card and make sure you request from your bank that you will be able to purchase items overseas with your card so that you can shop with no worries

Take lots of photos

An art hub and source of inspiration for many artists, there are so many museums which you can visit, so bringing your camera is a must.

Take public transport

Taxis in Paris are infamous. However, to drive a cab in Paris you do not necessarily need to know how to drive properly or know your way around, so I suggest you take the Metro and at the same time experience all the different quirks of taking the metro like a local and the people you will meet there.

Embrace the night

For those of you who have watched Midnight in Paris, you will know that Paris is a city for night owls, so much night life! Be sure not to miss out!

You are now ready to take on Paris! If there are any other tips we have missed out, do let us know in the comments below.

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